Board of Director absenteeism
URSU Bi-weekly meetings have poor attendance records
Article: Michael Chmielewski – Editor-in-chief
Some of URSU’s Board of Directors have had a high absenteeism rate from Board of Director’s meetings.
Two of them have only been to three out of a possible eleven each since they were elected to the position, or appointed, according to the latest minutes on the University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) website, the most recent being Dec. 4 as the Carillon went to press. The meetings are bi-weekly.
One of these directors, who is a voting member, is Eric Bell, the LGBTQ Director and fourth year journalism student. Bell hasn’t been to the meetings due to landing a journalism internship last semester and having a busy semester this time around.
“So I was there for meetings in the summer when I was in Regina, and I ended up getting an internship at the paper in Prince Albert, so I was unfortunately saddled up north for four months, so I missed all of those meetings, and then this semester I ended up having three night classes, which doesn’t work out for the meeting times.”
He also works a part time job during the evenings, when URSU Board meetings usually are.
Bell had an internship during the summer, but wasn’t sure if he’d land a second for the fall semester.
“I didn’t really know if I was going to get a second internship… there was a possibility that I’d get a second internship and I’d be gone.”
Looking back, Bell thinks it didn’t make sense to run for the position at all.
“Probably in hindsight, I shouldn’t have run for the position in the first place. I obviously have no plans to run, I mean I’m done with school and this university.”
“That’s true,” he said, when asked if the U of R LGBTQ community was being represented at Board meetings. “They weren’t being represented.”
Bell won his position April 12, 2013, beating the other candidate 54.4 per cent to 35.2 per cent.
URSU President Nathan Sgrazzutti sent a “Role of the Board of Directors” package to all Board of Directors Aug. 20, which describes the role of the Directors. In a copy the Carillon attained, Sgrazzutti says that, since the Board is to uphold URSU’s principles, and since the board is responsible for handling the affairs of URSU, it is “of the utmost importance that all directors take this position very seriously, and contemplate all decisions carefully.” The document also explains other roles directors have, such as attending meetings, and giving reports of work done as a director.
The document also explains the proper procedure on missing meetings. “If a director is unable to attend a meeting, the director shall send their regrets to the President or Board Chair 48 hours in advance whenever possible with a legitimate excuse.”
Bell never reported any regrets, according to the minutes, since his election. The other Board of Director who has only attended three meetings has only submitted one regret.
Fine Arts Director Tyler Toppings has also only attended three meetings since he was appointed. He wasn’t elected, though. Speaking of Bell’s and Toppings’ absenteeism, Sgrazzutti said “my God. If you see any of them, let me know if they’re okay.”
For Toppings too, apparently the meetings are at a bad time. “They’re scheduled while I have rehearsal and/or work.”
Toppings’ case, though, is quite interesting. According to him, he was asked to be Fine Arts Director, and wasn’t elected by the student population. He didn’t run for the position, so he wasn’t acclaimed. Apparently, nobody ran for the position.
“I’m not really the Fine Arts Director…the minutes on the URSU [website] are the only thing that say I’m a board of director.”
“The previous director and Nathan Sgrazzutti asked me to do it.”
He also agrees that Fine Arts students aren’t being represented if he doesn’t show up to these meetings, but also expressed concern that if nobody filled the role, it might go away.
“If I don’t do it, who will? That’s kind of my position,” said Toppings. “If nobody assumed the role, I was worried that it would disappear, like it did before. As long as somebody’s name is in the thing, away we go.”
Toppings also said that he did get the information package from Sgrazzutti, but didn’t read it.
“I didn’t read it…I didn’t want to do the job.”
Since he was appointed, Toppings is not a voting member of the board, but is rather ex officio, according to Sgrazzutti.
“He wasn’t elected in the election,” Sgrazzutti explained, “so he can’t vote.”
“Ex officio is someone who is a representative and can speak but isn’t actually a voting member of the Board of Directors.”
Sgrazzutti explains that nobody expressed interest in the Fine Arts Director position in the last elections.
“[Toppings] is the President of the Fine Arts Students’ Association[FASA]… we had no Fine Arts Director running for the by-election and the regular elections.”
“The idea was that we would have some sort of representation. We wanted to have someone there for Fine Arts.” Since he is the President of FASA Toppings seemed to be the natural choice.
The URSU Constitution and the Elections By-Law are not very clear on this point, but the Elections By-Law does stipulate that if nobody is nominated at the close of the nomination period, “the constituency or position shall remain vacant until the next By-Election of General Election is held.”
The Elections By-Law also does say, conversely, that “the representative from any faculty that has an official representative body of a constituency group, and is a member of the Presidents’ Advisory Council, may appoint a representative on the URSU Board of Directors for their constituency.”
This semester, URSU has had troubles meeting quorum for its meetings, which is 50 per cent plus one. Two meetings have been cancelled this semester alone. Sgrazzutti called the process “exhausting.”
“The idea that your executive is in there every single day working, working, working, getting things ready and prepped for a board meeting we have every two weeks where it’s up to these board members to come in for a couple of hours just to kind of look at things we’ve decided or listen to presentations from students. That’s your only job.”
“If you’re incapable of doing that you should just step down.”
Two board members did just that this semester, not because of stopping classes, but working other jobs while still being union members. These were the Luther Director and the Science Director, according to Sgrazzutti. He admitted that he was happy with how they handled the situation.
“I’m really happy with the two that decided, ‘you know what? We’ll just step down, it’s fine’” because of their situation.
It’s important to add that Sgrazzutti never asked anyone to resign, neither Bell or Toppings nor the other two directors.
“I don’t ever want to ask someone to resign from a position they ran for because of course my hope is they’re interested in being as involved as everyone else is.”
That being said, the President did praise the harder working members of URSU and the board, some who have at least near if not perfect attendance records.
URSU elections are going to take place late in March, and as the Carillon went to press, the official dates have not been decided.